Saturday, November 29, 2008


by Missy Grant

Advent – do you know the meaning of the word? Some with a strong liturgical background will make an instant connection to the word - others of you may not. Advent is from the Latin word Adventus which signifies a coming. In our English language we would also use the phrase to prepare to describe the term Advent. I grew up in a church and a family which celebrated Advent. It is a ceremony in which a candle (usually in a wreath) is lit each week signifying different aspects of preparing for celebrating the true reason for the season – Christ – one candle a week for four weeks prior to Christmas day.

Is celebrating Advent essential doctrine? No. As a matter of knowledge, this ceremony of preparation is based in western culture – not eastern, particularly within churches with a strong liturgical litany. Can it aid in focusing your prayer and thoughts on the Lord? Yes. As a statement of faith, please know that the writers of this blog believe in salvation by grace through faith alone, and while there are spiritual disciplines that aid in living a life according His call, nothing stands in between grace by faith.

For those interested, I have listed what each candle stands for and accompanying scripture which you can utilize. You may ask why I am posting this now – well, the first Sunday of Advent is tomorrow! In my home, we have an advent wreath in the center of our table and we read scripture, sing a song, pray and light a candle. It is a family tradition steeped deeply in His word. You might be interested in adding this tradition to your family this season or as part of your daily devotion with Him.

Week 1 – Hope (candle color is purple)
Selected scriptures: Isaiah 11:1-10
Luke 1:26-38
Isaiah 7:10-14
Matthew 1:18-24

Week 2 – Peace (candle color is purple)
Selected Scriptures: Micah 5:2
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11
Isaiah 2:1-5
Matthew 3:1-6

Week 3 – Joy (candle color is rose)
Selected Scriptures: Isaiah 9:6-7
John 1:19-34
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Philippians 2:1-11

Week 4 – Love (candle color is purple)
Selected Scriptures: Malachi 3:1-5
Romans 8:18-25
Isaiah 52:7-10
Revelation 21:1-4

Christmas Eve – The Christ Candle (candle color white)
Selected Scriptures: Isaiah 9:1-6
Luke 2:1-20
John 1:1-18
Titus 2:11-14

Dear Lord, thank you for your Word of Grace. For your gift of your Son. For loving us so deeply that you sent Him as a sacrifice for our sin. Lord, during this season when the world has taken you out of its name, may we purposefully put you back in. May we seek you and you alone. Prepare our hearts Lord, not just during this season, but in preparation of eternally praising you. Amen.

Friday, November 28, 2008


by Kate Hasson

As I sit in my paternal grandmother’s computer room typing away I hear the familiar sounds and smell the familiar scents I have known all my life. Nana is laughing to Aunt Barbara’s stories. Aunt Janet is playing with the girls. Aunt Betty went to go get Starbucks for all. I awoke a few times last night and breathed in the wonderful scent of Nana…my mind was flooded with memories. Pictures of all our family as we’ve grown through the years grace the walls of her home. Honestly, this place, with these people, could probably be the most comforting and enjoyable place in the world to me.

And what makes it most special of all is that every single one of us knows Christ as our Savior. We’ll have family worship in the morning together with Nana’s beautiful piano playing accompanying our voices. Dad will probably do some devotional and then we’ll pray together. Thanksgiving brings a time of praise to the Lord around the table, not just common talk. My heart is fed here, my belly is fed here, and my soul is fed here. God is so good to give us family. People who, even if we’ve not seen in a year or more, will know us inside and out, and love us unconditionally.

The verse that came to my mind when thinking of family is Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

As family we get to love each other intimately and oh, how it makes the relationship that much more sweet. We get to love each other deeply by the power of Christ. I will always treasure talking of the commandments of the Lord with this family “as we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down and get up. Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Words of Thanksgiving

by Rebecca Irwin

"The Lord delights in you." Isa. 62:4. "Thus says the Lord, who created you..."Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." Isa. 43:1. "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands..." Isa. 49:16

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving,and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,and his faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:1-5.

What is "a sacrifice of thanksgiving" and how should I offer it? It intrigued me to look up the word 'thanksgiving' and realize in the Old Testament, it was a literal sacrifice (Lev. 7:11-15, Psalm 50:23). What does it cost me to thank my God? Time in preparation? Resources in the offering, perhaps? But even so, my efforts are so small and fallible. We set aside this day to be mindful of our blessings. Yet, my frustration grows as I trudge in this rain to the market and in my mental checklist realize I have two more stores to visit. My irritation with the little men riding with me mounts as they become more and more excited and get in the way of my plans. My patience wears thin as I feel there is so much left to do, and yet, the sands of time are slipping through the hour glass and I feel that even my bones are tired.

As I read the Word I was reminded that God chose me. The sacrifice of His only Son to save me from my frustration, irritation, impatience and other daily sins merits all the strength I have to sing praise to Him and bless His name. As if I needed another reason, I read again and again "Give thanks to the Lord, for His is good, His steadfast love endures forever." I Chr. 16:34, 2 Chr. 7:3, Ez. 3:11, Ps. 136:1. In all of time, He is has not changed. Even with the uncertainty of "future", He is not going to change. He loves me steadfastly. He will endure in His love for me, despite what I do. That is worth a lifetime of thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my response to who He is and what He has done for me. The more I learn of Him, the more thanks I want to give Him. It tunes my heart to His will. It prepares me to do good works. It allows his enduring love to spill out of me onto others. Oh give thanks to the Lord!!

Father, thank you so much for choosing me! Thank you for the great lengths you went to to show your love for me. Thank you for calling me your friend even though I am forgetful of you. Thank you for hearing my prayers, understanding my moods and forgiving my inconsistency. You are worthy of all praise! I proclaim my thanksgiving to you Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Not Too Late

by Sue Donaldson

It’s not too late to invite someone else for Thanksgiving dinner! Go outside on your front porch and check out the neighborhood.

Often, the best company turns out to be last minute invitations. Ask the Lord, “Is there someone who could use a place at my table? (Or, more than one someone?)”

You may fret:
“I don’t have enough chairs . . .enough placemats . . .enough food. . .enough time. Besides, wouldn’t they be insulted to be asked so late??”

Enough, already.

Just ask. It’s always nice to be asked.

Paul asked Philemon: “Get the guest room ready – I hope to be there soon.” (Philemon, verse 22) Maybe someone is asking God : “Lord, I need to be welcomed by You and Your family – who do You have in mind?” May we all be willing to be the answer to that prayer. I’m sure Philemon got the sheets ready as soon as he got that letter – well, probably his wife got the sheets ready. .

Add a potato to the pot and get on the phone. Maybe that new guest will find Jesus at your table or on your front porch. Now that’s a great Thanksgiving.

Is there someone out there who still needs an invitation? Give me grace and courage and direction. Prepare me and my house to be Your welcome. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Meditation

by Peggy Brown

Since this week is Thanksgiving, I wanted to focus on that, and I will post “Passing the Baton Part II” next week.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend enough time being thankful. I get so caught up in daily life that I forget to notice, let alone express gratitude for, all of God’s wonderful gifts. Thanksgiving always provides me with the impetus to stop and consider God’s many blessings.

Those of you who attend POW sang this hymn last week, but it touched me and I wanted to contemplate the words again.

Thanks to God for My Redeemer
August L. Storm 1891

Thanks to God for my Redeemer, thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory, thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime, thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten, thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered, thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure, thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure, thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside, thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, thanks for heavenly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow, thanks through all eternity!

Psalm 40:5
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done,
And Thy thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with Thee;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

Father, God of every good and perfect gift, I thank You. Thank you that You don’t give me what I deserve, You give me all of Your riches in Christ Jesus. I am thankful for my family (and that new grandson “in the oven”!), for my dear friends, for my church which challenges me and for opportunities to serve. I pray for each woman reading these words…may she see her life in terms of Your blessings, no matter what her situation! Give us all grateful hearts. Amen

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Your Word...

by Missy Grant
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

This is a verse from the Lord’s word that I term “fully loaded.” The initial imagery is heart warming and enchanting, but, have you ever really sat down and meditated on the words of this well known scripture? Let’s take a few minutes and single out these precious words and see if the Lord brings new insight to you.

What is a lamp and what is a light? Are they one in the same? Do they perform the same purpose?

A lamp is a fixture, it is tangible, you can feel it, hold it, move it. A lamp has texture and weight. That being said, what is the word, lamp, referencing in this verse? The answer is the Lord’s Word. “Your word is a lamp…” His Word was a gift to us. A gift of encouragement that we can hold in our hands (in this country), or hold in our hearts (keep memorizing). It is never changing yet dynamic (which means ever changing) at the same time. How is that possible? Only the Holy Spirit knows…it gives us direction and makes known the unknown to us. His Word admonishes and encourages, convicts and heals. His Word draws us to Him (Psalm 145:18). But this grouping of words we hold so dear is just a foreshadow of this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.John 1:1-5.

Ahhh…did you see it? “…and the life was the Light of Men.” (note the capitalization of the word Light). What does a light do? It shows us things we would not see without it. A light can also give us direction. A light can provide a sense of security. If you are in the dark and there is a light at the end of the road – we naturally move toward it. Do you see how Christ was and is the ‘Light of Men’? His life and work on the cross showed us things we would not have seen such as our sin and the need for his atoning sacrifice. His light gives us direction towards the heavenly father. His light provides eternal security. When the above scripture says, “…a light to my path.”, what is being implied? Ask yourself, what is the lamp again? Yep, His Word. What does John 1:1 say, “…and the Word was God.” What did the light do? It provided a well lit pathway - to where - to Him.

We can take this scripture at face value and receive much insight from the imagery. Yet, if we dig a bit deeper and focus on His Word, the lamp and the light, our feet and the path…hmmnnn….what might the Lord be showing you today?

This is what He showed me…Almighty Lord, you are the alpha and the omega. Your blood stained finger prints are in every word of your Word. Your Word is a lamp, lit with the Holy Spirit and burning with an eternal flame. In your everlasting love for me, you chose me – even when racked with sin – you chose me. Your light revealed that which I did not want to see – yet was made perfect and unblemished in your sacrifice. There is no love like that of the cross. May my feet follow the light of your paths of righteousness. To your glory, amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One More Thing

by Cindy Frauenheim
There's always just one more thing
there's always another task
there's always I just have one more small favor to ask
and everything is urgent
and everything is now
wonder what would really happen if I stopped somehow
I'll be there in a minute

just a few places to go

you wake up a few years later
and your kids are grown
and everything is important

and everything is not at the end of your life
your relationships are all you've got
and love to me is when you put down that one more thing
and say I've got something better to do
and love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing
and say nothing will come between me
and you not even one thing

Lyrics to “Just One More Thing” by Sara Groves (listen to a sample here)

Those are true words about real life for a busy mom. I have seen firsthand how this principle can impact the lives of those around me, especially my husband and my children. When I consciously choose to lessen my grip on my “to-do” list and focus on my relationships, and how to really love others, it is always such a blessing for all involved. I have also seen the stress, discouragement, and strained relationships that can result when I try to stick to my agenda. But it can be so HARD to do when you are a task-driven, planner like myself. So I encourage you to daily assess your priorities, and let the needs of those around you help shape how your day looks, and how it ends up – even if that is no where near what you thought you needed to accomplish. To our husbands, our children, and most importantly to God, loving them in a very tangible way often means walking out on “that one more thing”.

"The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Lord, please direct my steps and help me to give you each day for your purposes. Show me where I need to slow down, and cut things out of my schedule for you, for my family, and for others. As an especially busy season approaches, help me to focus on the relationships you have given me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Words of Encouragement

by Rebecca Irwin

I had the privilege to attend a baby shower for a dear friend on Saturday. Though it is their third child, this is their first girl and her mama has a great love of books. Thus, the hostesses asked each guest to bring book recommendations for little girls. What a wonderful list was created! At the end, the baby's grandmother prayed, "We pray that she will be a woman of words, but more importantly, a woman of The Word, may it shape and guide her life...". What a lovely blessing prayed upon that little girl! And what an encouragement to all the hearers - that as mothers we have the incredible task of planting the seeds of God's Word in our little one's lives.

That same evening, we happened to bring home the movie "Because of Winn Dixie". At one point, Opal says to Gloria Stump, "Miss Franny said the problem with people here is that they forgot how to share their sadness, but what I think is that people forgot how to share their joy." With her simple, straightforward observation, she encouraged Gloria Stump to release her fear and throw a lovely party. That is the defining quality of encouragement : "To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to hearten". And that is the power of words to encourage. (I hope I did not give anything away, and I would recommend putting this film at the top of your list of movies to see and/or books to read!)

To serve as yet another example, my oldest son recently received second place in our school's art contest for his drawing of a family moving to New York City. The artwork was judged by a class of students at Cal State University, Long Beach. About a week after the award reception a handwritten letter came home in his backpack. It said, "I thought your artwork 'Moving to New York City' was amazing! Your drawing and painting skills are excellent, and I think you are a wonderful young artist. I am a student at CSULB, and your artwork and skills impressed me very much. I hope you continue to make art, and become a professional artist one day. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you keep up the amazing work." he signed it with his signature and a sketch of a paintbrush. I wish I could have hugged that student!! What an amazing gift of praise for my boy! And, what a thoughtful gesture to take the time to put pen to paper and write down his words and deliver it to the elementary school. It took effort to do this thing, but the impact it may have on my son's pursuit of art may last his lifetime.

I am astounded by Paul's efforts to encourage the groups of people, and individuals, he wrote to. Like Paul, I imagined myself in the un-comfort of a prison cell. In my imagination the floor was dust and there was no bed, no sink or water to drink, no toilet, no privacy. All I would have the mind to do was worry and cry and beg Jesus to release me from that place. In stark contrast, Paul thought about the "others" in all the one-anothers he spoke of. He asked for a pen and paper, and with his own, chained hands wrote words of gratitude and praise and love. Note too, he did not hesitate to ask for encouragement for himself, knowing full well he could be discouraged. Ah yes, it took effort.

Lord God, may we make the effort to admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with them all. May we always seek to do good to one another and to everyone (1 Thes. 5:14,15). Help us to find encouragement in your Word so we can in turn encourage one another. We recognize we are sometimes more prone to be discouraged and we ask that you would bring along a friend who will give us "apples of gold in settings of silver" with "a word aptly spoken". Thank you for the example you have given us in Paul and the encouragement of his words. Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Desert Place

by Debbi Weeks

Psalm 69:2, 3, 5 and 29
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. O God, it is You who knows my folly, and my wrongs are not hidden from You. But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high.”

I’m wiped. It’s been a hard week. I’m physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually spent. Physically, I’ve been exhausted and in pain. Emotionally, I’ve been discouraged and just plain sad. Mentally, I’ve had much to think about and have felt pulled in many different directions. Spiritually, I’ve been struggling with some of what God is taking me through.

Things haven’t changed much. Today I’m pretty much in the same boat as I’ve been this past week. Still, I see that God is ministering to me - by the tears of a dear friend, by the prayers of my sisters in Christ, by the responsive reading of Psalm 69 in our Sunday Worship service and by the words of the song, “Blessed be Your Name” that we sang.

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

These are the words that really spoke to my heart. I feel as though I am in that desert place and I am trusting God to take me through it – blessed be His name. I have a choice in every situation, and yes, I choose the attitude - blessed be His name. It’s my hope that when you find yourself in a similar place, you, too, will see God ministering to you and that you will remember and choose – blessed be His name.

Father God I praise You for having a plan for my life, even in the desert place.
I confess I get discouraged and it takes me a while to trust You when I am.
Thank You that You don’t get fed up with me. Thank You that You go through the desert with me.
May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high
In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Come" - - my favorite word

by Sue Donaldson

Awhile ago, I woke up feeling frustrated about the remodel (which means I was mad at my husband); I was frustrated at my daughter in the curfew interpretation area (a brilliant child, otherwise . . .) and, I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep (never a good thing.)

But, being morning, I sat down with my coffee and read one phrase from Matthew 11:28 – Jesus said, “Come unto Me.”

So I did. I came. I gave Him all my thoughts (some angry, some disgruntled, some self-righteous) -- and feelings (some irrational, some fearful, some self-pitying.) Oh, and my head hurt (He got that, too.) I laid everything at His feet. (He did say “come,” right?)

It made all the difference.

I’ve heard that verse all my life. But I needed the reminder to come to Him. Habits remind us – and, He gave me rest. He released me from myself for the rest of the day. It was almost a physical transition of my burdens onto Him.

And I was able to share it with two friends later that morning who also needed to come to Jesus.

We don’t value habits for habits sake – but for how God uses them to draw us closer to Him. Come to Him. That’s a habit you don’t want to pass up.

Lord Jesus,
Thank you for that great invitation that You gave so many years ago. I want to RSVP right now and come to You. There—that’s better. Amen

PS Now, about that remodel. . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

Passing the Baton, pt. 1

by Peggy Brown

I was born into a Christian home, had many generations of believers in my family and was raised in an evangelical church. I consider that I am greatly blessed to have such a heritage.

I have been thinking lately about the women in my life who have influenced, shaped and discipled me literally from before my birth. (Now, here’s the disclaimer: There were men in my spiritual life, too. My dad and grandads, etc. but for now I am writing only about the women!) This is the beginning of a trip down my memory lane of spiritual mentors. “Why would I be interested in reading that?” you may ask. My hope is that as you read through this list you will see yourself and your relationships and possibly will be spurred on to be a spiritual mentor in some way to other women in your life.

I guess I have to start with my fore-mothers who prayed for me, possibly even before my parents were married, but certainly from the time that my existance was announced! I am thankful that those Godly women practiced their faith diligently!

Next, of course, would be my mother. From the earliest moments of my life she prayed for me. She saw to it that my faith was cultivated from before I spoke my first word. She gave me music!!! We sang about Jesus a lot! I can not even remember a time when I didn’t sit on the organ bench next to her as we sang whatever songs I was learning in Sunday School, and I absorbed the words and melodies of the old hymns. (I think that they may NOT have been old then!) Quite naturally, she began to teach me to play them as well. As I got older, we’d sit and sing…my melody with her harmony blending in! I learned all of my Bible stories in her lap. There was never a time when she was unwilling to take time to talk to me about her faith (or anything else, for that matter!). She saw to it that I was in church and Sunday School regularly. When I reached that inevitible time in high school where “I don’t want to go to church, I don’t get anything out of it”, she dispensed the sage wisdom that if I was there, God’s truth was soaking in whether I knew (or liked) it or not. Side note: I have since dispensed the same wisdom to both of my own children. Her faith wasn’t educated or sophisticated, but it was REAL.

I have to add my sister to the list next. Since she was 7 years older than I was, she was like a second mother. In my early gradeschool memories, she is there encouraging me that Jesus was with me when I was too afraid to go to school. She was faithful to show me that Jesus could be trusted in real life. She walked the path ahead of me and let me watch her in the process.

I’ve mentioned my Aunt Alma before, and I have to add her here as well. She never married, so my sister and I received all of her “maternal” attentions. She reinforced the faith I was learning from my parents, and also built in her own lessons on obedience to my parents and respect for my elders. These all were grounded in the scripture. From her I learned faithfulness. She was faithful to her Lord and His Word! She trusted Him, literally, for every single need she had in her life. I also learned what it looked like to see people through God’s eyes. I never heard her speak ill of a single person in my whole life.

I was recalling the other day that there were a couple of Sunday School teachers that stand out in my memory. I am sorry that I don’t remember all of them! One was Maude Hutchins, my teacher around 3rd or 4th grade. She was as old as Methuselah, I was sure. What I remember about her, besides that I loved her, is the time in my girls’ class when she asked me to pray out loud. I replied something to the effect that I couldn’t or was embarrassed to. Her response to me was “Honey, when you pray out loud, you are just talking to God, not to these girls sitting around you!” I prayed out loud for the first time that day, and have never been afraid since.

Another Sunday School teacher was Mrs.Withrow. Her first name was Chris, and she was from Texas. I remember loving how she talked. She was around 5th grade. I will have more to say about her later, because she intersected my life again in High School. But what I remember most about her is how serious she was that we should learn to love God with “all of our hearts, souls, mind and strength.” I remember her prayers, in her southern drawl, intreating God for our hearts and minds. I remember that I wanted to be a Christian like her.

There were many others in my early years that were just there to make sure we had fun at church and learned about Jesus. Mostly, I think, they were just faithful to live their lives in plain view of our little, eager eyes. G’Ann, who was my Pioneeer Girl’s guide, was the coolest person ever. She was newly married and invited us all over to her house to bake cookies and paint our fingernails. She told us stories about how she met her husband Darryl, and, you guessed it…God was in the center of it all! Mrs. Akers…she had no eyebrows and I was fascinated by her red, penciled brows. She was so patient and gentle with the little girl that was such a handful. (I’m sure we’d call her ADHD now!) She was Jesus “with skin on”.

I am so very amazed as I sit here and write. I wish you could know how many I am thinking of and leaving out! God has blessed my life with a multitude of women. I am so thankful!

The scripture that I keep thinking about is Titus 2:3-5:
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no on will malign the word of God.”

Lord I am amazed and humbled when I think of the heritage of faith that you have given me! My heart overflows with thankfulness. Please enlarge my heart to include other women in relationships so that I may pass along those things that you have entrusted me with. Amen

To be continued…

Saturday, November 15, 2008

sara groves - I saw What I Saw

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lead by Example

by Kate Hasson

Recently Suzannah has taken to “reading” her bible. She has been taking it everywhere she goes, grocery stores, car rides, park, church, to the mailbox and back, at bedtime, and story time... everywhere. She cuddled up onto her seat the other day and started to “read” her bible and then asked, “Hey Mom, do I look like a mommy?” She likes to read it aloud to Charlotte by using all the Christian dialogue she’s picked up and also by reciting a few bible verses.

She and Charlotte love to pray when they playfully imagine being mother and daughter. Suzannah enjoys teaching her baby dolls why they are to love God, be obedient to parents, be kind and helpful, etc.

As I have been watching this pattern emerge from my children my heart has begun to ache. I feel so inadequate and undisciplined. I am constantly amazed to see how much the girls pick up from me. I’ll even see things repeated from times that I thought they didn’t really care, or weren’t really watching or listening. I have become quite more conscientious about my actions and how they will point to the Savior as of late. But what about all the times when they see me in a foul mood, or whiney, or being lazy, or saying something I shouldn’t? Yes, unfortunately they imitate those actions as well. But here is where I get to have a second chance. By God’s grace, I want my heart to be so soft and humble that when I mess up, I will be sure to apologize to God and my girls. Unfortunately I am a sinful mother surrounded by eager minds and it is inevitable that they will see my hypocrisy. I just pray that God will wisen their hearts unto salvation, that the example I lead in Bible reading and prayer time would speak louder than my selfish attitudes, and that through me they would see a perfect and merciful God who loves and has redeemed a helpless sinner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Words of Duty

by Rebecca Irwin

Last night, in a conversation, my friend adequately summed up my sentiments about the Veteran's Day service I attended by declaring "You're right, Beck, today duty is a bad word." I had the privilege of taking my little boy Scout, Max, in his Tiger Cub uniform to a Veteran's Day service with his Great Grandma, Ruth Schmitt, on November 11, 2008. Ruth, or Gigi as we call her, lives in Leisure World. Residing there in Southern California, is one of the greatest concentration of Veterans in the United States. I was deeply moved as the gentlemen stood in turn to the theme of their military branch. I wanted to seize the moment and snap a thousand photos, know their names and sit with them to hear their stories. I left with a deep sense that the sands of time are sifting through the hourglass and soon, we will not have the chance to learn from this great generation.

The speaker that morning was Colonel Jane M. Anderholt. She stated five things the Army has in common today with the veterans that came before them : 1. I am an American Soldier 2. The mission comes first 3. I will not accept defeat 4. I will never give up 5. I will never leave a fallen comrade. Then she quoted the scripture John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.". It immediately struck me that there were parallels between this list and our call as Christians. These truths could be my personal manifesto.

Please understand, I do not wish to militarize the Word. Nor do I wish to merge church and state. I am not holding nationalism in equality with spirituality. I simply want to share with you the impact it had on me to have a creed, a motto, a set of values, a sense of duty one holds to. Perhaps in a sort of rebel response, going against the unpopularity of duty outside the walls of Leisure World and the Army barracks, I felt it would be very valuable to formulate such a thing for myself. In fact, as I type this I believe it would be a valuable thing to teach my boys as well. This is how I personalized the call to duty :

1. I am a Christian soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3 "Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus".
2. God's mission comes first. Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age". and Matthew 22:37-40 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets".
3. I will not be defeated. 1 John 4:4 "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
4. I will never give up. Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
5. I will never leave a brother in trouble. 1 John 4:21 "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." 2 Corinthians 13:11 "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."

King of the Angel armies, King of all Kings, Ruler of all nations, and my Lord, please help me to realize a sense of duty as a disciple of Jesus. Please let me serve you with honor, bringing glory to your name. Do not let me be lukewarm, or casual about my commitment to Christ. Help me to learn from generations before me who have kept the faith. Amen

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Blessing of Suffering

by Debbi Weeks

I just finished another novel. Well, okay, so I finished listening to another novel – I just love audiobooks! This one was Dawn’s Light by Terri Blackstock. It was a good read . I kind of got into the characters.

In the Afterward of the book, Terri Blackstock says a couple of things that fascinated me.

The first was that she said she constantly asks herself what God might do to our nation to bring about His righteousness (this relates to the storyline of the book). She looked at Isaiah 26:9 which says, “. . . For when the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” and noted that God uses different forms of judgment for people to seek Him.

The second was that God longs to bless us. She likened it to a parent desiring to bless her child, but there comes a time when blessing would be irresponsible. Sometimes the discipline of suffering is a better choice. This discipline may not look like blessing, but Terri Blackstock explains the crisis is the blessing because in it we seek Him with all our hearts. Hosea 5:15 says, “. . . In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

Then, just this week Randy Alcorn had this statement on his blog regarding the problem of evil and suffering:
“How many times has God had a purpose in events that seemed senseless at the time they happened? How many things that seem pointless now will later be seen to have a divine point? Consider Joseph and his brothers who horribly betrayed him and sold him as a slave: ‘You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good’ Genesis 50:20.”

God’s economy for suffering is far different than mine. I like to be comfortable. I do know, however, that in the hard times I turn to Him. I trust His Word that it is in those difficult times that the world turns to Him as well. I don’t want to suffer, but I do want the results of suffering and knowing that God uses it for His glory does make it somewhat more palatable. Oh that I, oh that we, would instead seek the Lord before we need affliction to cause us to seek Him!

Father, God I praise You that in Your economy nothing is wasted.

I confess I want to be comfortable and not go through the fire.

Thank You that Your sovereign plan is for my good and Your glory.

Please allow me to have eyes to see Your hand in affliction and please allow me to seek You even without affliction.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Extrordinary Power

by Sue Donaldson

David got it right when he prayed:
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

I’ll never forget the morning I told my husband, Mark, that God had shown me that verse. He responded with: “You may want to pray for a whole army!” (very funny, honey. . .)

Our words can be used for good or evil. I need an army to keep my mouth closed sometimes. How about you?

I loved how Jean Shaw prayed:

“Father, take away my pride, which makes me want to appear right in every situation. Help me to appreciate other points of view. And, Father, in matters of little importance, give me the extraordinary power to say nothing.” (from the book Second Cup of Coffee)

Which strikes you most? That you are too proud to see another point of view? That you HAVE to appear right (especially when you know you are?) That often things are “of little importance,” but you still need to tout your opinion?

My favorite phrase is: “. . . give me the extraordinary power to say nothing.” For some it takes an army, and that’s extraordinary.

Have a great day and look out for the guard at your door – God sent him and he’s got your best interests in mind.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Knit My Life

by Peggy Brown

One of my new projects is knitting. Currently I am knitting a hat for my great-niece, Kailynn, for Christmas. She is the one whose picture was on my blog last Monday! She’s a sweetie! I have spent several hours on this hat (I’m still a beginnger so I go slowly) and it’s turning out sooo cute!

I’ll admit, though, that I have had several setbacks as I knitted, requiring that I take out 2 or 3 rows and re-knit them. Last night I was ready to scream with frustration, but then I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and was able to fix it. Then, today, after I’d knitted for a couple of hours, I discovered that I had misread the pattern and had knitted over 200 rows where I only needed 50! I just tore it out and started over. I was discouraged, to say the least.

When Kailynn gets her hat, she will never know the hours (yes, some unnecessary) of work have gone into it. She will just see the finished product, a cute little hat with a flower on it that she can wear to keep her head warm. She won’t see the sacrifice of my time that went into making it so that it only covers the top of her head and not come down to her shoulders! People who see it on her won’t know that I had so many “issues” getting to the finished product.

I confess that I don’t have that same determination in my Faith walk as I have in my knitting. When things don’t go as I think they should (doesn’t God have the pattern?) or when it seems like I just can’t get victory over some sin in my life, I want to give up. I don’t readily “tear out” the mistake and “start over” at the beginning.

What I forget often is God’s perspective. God has the finished project (me) in His heart. As He works in my life to create that project, I am beautiful in His eyes, and my life will be beautiful to those who see it. The process is designed to bring glory to Him! From the outside, no one will see all the stitches that have been torn out and reworked. Unlike the hat which people will see as a finished product, my life is only seen as a work in progress.

Sometimes we forget to be transparent with one another about the process. We forget that the process God is taking us through encourages other people. When other believers just see us from the outside, it can seem like we have it all together and that we have no “stitches” that are being reworked. I had a friend tell me once that she couldn’t share a problem with a certain person because “she doesn’t have any problems so she wouldn’t understand.” The trouble wasn’t that she had no problems, but that she never talked about what God was working out in her life.

All of this is done in the context of relationships. We women are relational creatures (just ask Sue Donaldson!). We need one another to share with and be encouraged by. Other women are waiting to hear that it is OK to struggle, that God is the master knitter! Sometimes they need to hear that there are some stitches that need to be worked on, too. The end result is that God will be glorified!

Phil. 1:6
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Lord, master knitter, I ask that You would make me a willing project. Open my heart to be willingly transparent before others. Let the flaws in my life be the things that bring glory to You. I praise You that you have promised to continue to work on me until I am a completed project on the day of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"the ascent of the heart to God in prayer is an excellent
preparative to receive the discoveries of the divine grace."
matthew henry

Friday, November 7, 2008


by Cindy Frauenheim

" The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well (emphasis mine) so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. "
1 Timothy 2: 1-3 in The Message

I am an avid listener to Janet Parshall on 890 AM. I knew that after the election I could count on her to give encouragement and biblical counsel for all believers in this age when we see such polarization in our culture (I highly recommend her show). What I have taken away from her these past couple of days is an exhortation to pray daily for our new president-elect. Whether or not we voted for him, he is in such a position of prominence and power, and will face huge challenges – perhaps bigger than we might imagine. I cannot say that I have prayed regularly for our current president, except sporadically, and that is not to my credit. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Christians in this country resolved to be diligent in prayer for our commander-in-chief on a daily basis? Perhaps God has chosen this turn of events to stir his people to seek him more passionately?

As Debbi noted on Wednesday, God is all sovereign, and that gives me great peace. I am concerned for our country, but not fearful. I am excited about how God may use his people in the years just ahead. He has his perfect plan, and it will not be thwarted, yet mysteriously he can and he does use the prayers of his children in the process. God can even change the heart of a leader. He has done this many times in history, and will again if he so chooses. Let’s pray that our leaders, legislators, and judges will humble themselves before the one, true God, and seek to honor him.

"The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."
Proverbs 21:1 ESV

Father, help me to pray as I’ve never prayed before for the leadership of this country. Give me eyes to see you at work. Give me a compassionate heart, perseverance, and the courage that comes only from total reliance on you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Words of Comfort

by Rebecca Irwin

Like a stone skipping on the water, sorrow has rippled through us as close friends within our church family have lost someone they dearly loved. I do not exaggerate when I write that nearly every week for the last two months we have known someone who has died. I have written more sympathy cards in one month than I had ever written in my lifetime. With these occasions, words are so difficult to find. But, after weeping, and listening, an aptly spoken word can comfort.

On our vacation this summer, my husband brought along a book titled "Lament for a Son" by Nicholas Wolterstorff. A friend had given it to him. Out of curiosity, I picked it up and started reading it. It has greatly impacted me. It is my amazing lot not to know loss of a loved one - all of my grandparents and my immediate family members are still here with us. Thus, this book gave me a keyhole view of what grief might look like. As the title suggests, Nicholas Wolterstorff lost his son at age 25 and "Lament" is his journal as he grieved his loss. His writing gave me a new perspective on death, and more importantly, a greater appreciation for Jesus.

One entry I would like to share with you is this : "Standing on a hill in Galilee Jesus said to his disciples : Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted...How strange, how incredibly strange!...Why cheer tears?...Who then are the mourners? The mourners are those who have caught a glimpse of God's new day, who ache with all their being for that day's coming, and who break out into tears when confronted with its absence. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm of peace there is no one blind and who ache whenever they see someone unseeing. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm there is no one hungry and who ache whenever they see someone starving. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm there is no one falsely accused and who ache whenever they see someone imprisoned unjustly. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm there is no one who fails to see God and who ache whenever they see someone unbelieving. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm there is no one who suffers oppression and who ache whenever they see someone beat down. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm there is no one without dignity and who ache whenever they see someone treated with indignity. They are the ones who realize that in God's realm of peace there is neither death nor tears and who ache whenever they see someone crying tears over death. The mourners are aching visionaries."

Stick with me, because he completes this thought : "Such people Jesus blesses; he hails them, he praises them, he salutes them. And he gives them the promise that the new day for whose absence they ache will come. They will be comforted. The Stoics of antiquity said : Be calm. Disengage yourself. Neither laugh nor weep. Jesus says : Be open to the wounds of the world. Mourn humanity's mourning, weep over humanity's weeping, be wounded by humanity's wounds, be in agony over humanity's agony. But do so in the good cheer that a day of peace is coming." I do not want to miss the opportunity to sit on the mourning bench beside someone who weeps.

As I volunteered in my son's first grade class today I overheard them reporting what they saw on the election coverage. "Many people were crying," one boy noticed. We so deeply want things to be right. We all, at our core, want restoration and we know so many things, including death, is wrong. I am also learning that humanity must grieve any major change or loss - a broken relationship, a broken career, a broken home. If we read the Psalms, and the song-writer's laments, we see that in troubled times, faith is our anchor. Faith allows us to walk on stormy waters if we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Comforter, in your Word, Psalm 126 says : "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." You promise comfort and give us hope. May we see your heart to restore the things that are so broken now. Amen

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trusting in God's Sovereignty

by Debbi Weeks

It’s over! Praise the Lord it’s over – at least for another four years! I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of November 5th for a long time. November 4th has come and gone (woo hoo! ). I’m not one who enjoys controversy, so this election season has been an uncomfortable time for me.

As I write this I don’t know who was selected to be our next president. I don’t know if my candidates won or if the propositions I supported passed, but I am trusting God that He will use whoever and by whatever means He deems necessary to accomplish His purposes.

I BELIEVE IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. I can rest assured that today (and yesterday) God is in control.

During this time I’ve been reminded of the memory verse from our study of Daniel last year – Daniel 2:20-21 (NIV):

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

I think controversy is something I’m going to have to get used to as our country becomes more and more polarized. As believers in Jesus Christ, standing up for righteousness is beginning to include persecution and may soon include suffering. I rest in knowing that God is going to take care of it all. I’m just called to be faithful no matter what the circumstances. But I can rejoice that I am but an alien here – this world is not my home! Come, Lord Jesus, come. And, I am thankful that November 5th is finally here! Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever!

Father, God I praise You for Your sovereignty. Oh how I praise You that You are in control and that Your plans cannot be thwarted.
I confess when I take my eyes off of You that I can become scared. Please forgive me when I lack faith and don’t trust You fully.
Thank You that our security is not based on man’s wisdom or governments. Thank You that this world is not my home.
Please allow me to see Your hand at work in our country – whether it be Your blessing or Your discipline. Thy will be done, Lord.
In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


by Sue Donaldson

I was on a walk through our neighborhood with a woman who has made up her mind, it seems, against Christianity. We were in the midst of (finally) an “under the surface” conversation—I’d been gently probing, while at the same time ever-conscious of stepping on toes. We love and respect each other but haven’t spent much time together. I had been praying for a window through which I could share Christ.

We were almost back to the house when she began explaining her one-time interest in Buddhism and yoga. I began making appropriate responses and polite noises, and she suddenly exclaimed:
“Well, it’s not as if it dominates my life!”

I was so startled and gratified to hear her use that phrase that I stopped and turned to her and said:

“Well, my faith does dominate my life!”

No news to her – she just smiled and said, “I know.” And, God opened the window a little further.

A.W. Tozer said this:
“What I believe about God is the most important thing about my life.”

His belief system dominated his life – it gave him his identity, his direction, his passion. What anyone believes about God is the most important thing in their lives, whether or not they acknowledge it.

Paul wrote:
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

What we believe has to with life and death--heaven or hell. I’d say that’s the most important thing about us – whether or not we give any thought to it or allow it to dominate our lives.
What is the most important thing about your life? God wants it to be Him. He will take care of the rest. God wants to be dominant--do you want to be dominated?

Lord, I believe--help me with my unbelief. May I be dominated by You--no matter what it takes. Amen.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trusting My Father

by Peggy Brown

There were lions, tigers, horses, princesses, flowers, ninjas, pirates, clowns and even a little brown feathery thing…all lined up, waiting for their turn at the front. When they got there, they took 3 little darts in their hands and threw them, one at a time, toward the black and yellow target on the wall. After their mission was accomplished, they reached their hand excitedly into a paper bag on the floor and extracted their prize…a piece of candy!

Yes, Wayne and I manned the dart booth at the Harvest Festival at church last Friday night! It was so fun to watch the kids running around the crowded room. (Of course, grandma to be that I am, I loved the little babies in strollers or safely strapped to mom’s tummy. One was only 11 days old!) But I digress!

It came to my attention as I watched some of the kids (mostly the littler ones) that when they stepped up to our booth they were a bit hesitant to get in line or to walk up to us to get the darts. That’s when mom or dad stepped in with encouragement like “that’s O.K. just walk up to the line” or “just throw the dart at the board”. Sometimes mom (mostly dads I noticed) would walk up to the line with the child and help them with their task. At that point, the child would relax, often grin, and “get with the program”.

My thoughts were further piqued last night as we attended the wedding of a friend’s son. At the reception, after dinner and all of the formalities, a DJ began to play music and people moved to the dance floor to dance. I watched a young dad, holding his 18 month old standing off to the side bobbing to the music. Then dad put the little guy down on the ground. Much to all of our surprise, he was off LIKE A SHOT into the middle of the dancing. We literally could not see him! It reminded me of releasing a fish into the water after I have caught it; just a streak in the water and then gone! We all chuckled, knowing he was quite safe (except for the danger of being trampled) wondering when he would emerge. Quite a while later I saw him come wandering out of the crowd looking for dad or mom. He had a little grin on his face until he noticed that they weren’t where he thought they would be. He didn’t have a melt down, but he did look concerned as he cruised around the area. Then he spotted dad and ran right to him. Moments later, there they were again at the dance floor and my little friend was squirming and fussing to get down and boogey! All was well now that dad was there.

Don’t you think we are so much like those kids? We become fearful when we step out into unknown territory. And it seems to me that so much of the Christian life IS unknown territory! God asks us to do things and go places that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable and we hesitate or turn and go the other way! Sometimes just living in this uncertain world causes us to shrink back in fear or seek the sanctuary of people with whom we identify. It’s much safer inside the walls of church .

What I forget (and I learned a long time ago that if I do or feel something, I am NEVER the only one!) is that my Heavenly Father is right there with me offering direction…

Isaiah 30:21
And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
He is making sure that I am safe in His care…

Psalm 8:4
What are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us?

In case you didn’t remember, tomorrow is Election Day, and I confess that I have had more than a little angst over it. But here is God; again, reminding me that even that is in His hand! We can trust that whoever is elected, both locally and nationally, is in God’s hand and is not a surprise to our loving Heavenly Father…

Proverbs 21:1
The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he turns it wherever he pleases.

Romans 13:1-5
Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. [2] So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. [3] For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. [4] The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong.

[5] So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.

Heavenly Father, I find myself in the same place as the man who came to you for healing of his demon possessed son. He honestly confessed “I believe, help my unbelief!” I trust you, but ask for your help in my lack of trust. I know that I fail often in that childlike trust that I have observed, but I want to trust you like that. Let me be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit’s prompting when I begin to feel fearful and help me to immediately look into your smiling Abba, Father eyes! Amen

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. "
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Extraordinary Graces

by Missy Grant

"extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces." matthew henry

An amazing quote…I love the phrase, “trial of extraordinary graces.” It reads like an oxymoron; that is when two contradictory terms are used together to create effect. I think trial and grace used together creates quite an effect. Would you agree? The challenge of the above quote though is really to look at one’s life circumstances and see the grace in it.

What are the extraordinary graces in your life today? Right now….think….look around…what trial has been so difficult that you feel as though you may not survive emotionally, spiritually, or physically intact. Are you experiencing and acknowledging His grace in your trial today? You were chosen by the Lord for this day – for the experiences of the day – for the conversations of this day – for the relationships of this day – for the tasks of this day (no matter how mundane) - for the praise and worship of Him this day. His grace is always sufficient. He promised that. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The Lord desires to show Himself in you. He desires to look into His refining fire (trial) and see a reflection not of you….but of Him! That is extraordinary grace!

Go to Him today….Dear Lord, I stumble and fall seemingly most of the day every day. I don’t know how that reflects on you. Thank you for the extraordinary graces you pour into my life starting with your Son’s death on the cross. He chose the death I deserved so that I would not taste it myself. Your grace is sufficient. Lord, search me today and cleanse me of any thought, attitude, action or words which do not reflect You. Allow me to view my trials as stepping stones of grace carefully and purposefully set down by You for Your glory. I praise your glorious name, Amen.